Censor Board chief on Sen’s documentary: Asked to remove offensive adjectives | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Censor Board chief on Sen’s documentary: Asked to remove offensive adjectives

Pahlaj Nihalani, Chairman, Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC), defends his decision of censoring six words from the upcoming documentary on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen titled The Argumentative Indian.

bollywood Updated: Jul 13, 2017 11:33 IST
Subhash K Jha
CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihlani has asked to beep out six words including Gujrat, Hindu, Cow and India among others.
CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihlani has asked to beep out six words including Gujrat, Hindu, Cow and India among others. (Hindustan Times)

There has been an intellectual uproar over the cuts ordered by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in Suman Ghosh’s documentary—The Argumentative Indian. Talking to us exclusively on these cuts, CBFC chairperson, Pahlaj Nihalani argues that the mere deletion or beeping of six words is no reason to feel creatively smothered when those words indicate a clear contempt for Indian culture and democracy.

Says Nihalani, “I have been flooded with calls from print and television channels asking why we’ve beeped six words in the documentary. For the first and last time, here’s the reason why. Because we felt a documentary on an Indian Nobel laureate, referring so insensitively to our politics and religion, could result in a serious breach in the peace and harmony of the country.”

He adds, “At one point, Prof Sen talks of Indian democracy and refers to Gujarat’s criminalities. We’ve asked for ‘Gujarat’ to be removed. At another point in the documentary, there is a reference to the enemy in India being religious leadership.We’ve asked for ‘India’ to be removed here.The third word we’ve ordered cut is when Prof Sen speaks of India being interpreted as ‘Hindu’. We’ve asked for Hindu to be removed. The fourth cut is that of the word ‘cow’ where Prof Sen, while speaking of religious integration, makes a frivolous reference to the ‘cow’. The fifth and according to us minor change is in Prof Sen’s line about the Vedas being used in a sectarian way these days. We’ve asked for the words ‘used’ and ‘these days’ to be removed. And finally Prof Sen refers to the Hindutva view of India as ‘banal’. We asked for the offensive adjective to be removed.”

Nihalani feels that the six words being removed from the documentary is wrongly being seen as pro-government chamchagiri. “We are not asking for the removal of the words under pressure from the Government. We seriously feel the removal of the words causes no injury to Prof Sen’s thought processes in the documentary. On the other hand, referring to a cow in a flippant manner or calling Hindutva ‘banal’ could seriously breach the communal harmony of the country.”

Nihalani opines that when filmmakers talk about freedom of expression, they should be aware of the responsibility that comes along with that freedom. “You may be a Nobel laureate. But if you speak disparagingly about things held sacred by the population, you are vulnerable to attacks.”

Nihalani wants the documentary’s director Suman Ghosh to calm down. “Simply reacting because six words are beeped out when they in no way affect your artistic freedom is just a knee-jerk reaction. Please look at the larger picture.”

The censor chief also points out a serious legal breach on the part of this documentary’s makers. “They have screening the film without a censor certificate in various public places of India. That’s illegal. Freedom of expression is fine. What about breaking the law?”

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